One of the easiest and simplest ways to manage your chronic sciatica is exercising and stretching. Exercises and stretches are a great way to increase muscular strength, improve flexibility and alleviate your sciatica. A prolonged period of inactivity is one of the risk factors of developing sciatica. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to worsening sciatica pain. As with any exercise or change of lifestyle, please contact your doctor to make sure the increase in activity is right for you.
A study published by the Oxford Academia Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Journal concluded that joint mobility and exercises resulted in improvement of pain and mobility for patients with sciatica.
Six at-home exercises and stretches for sciatica management:
1. Sciatic Nerve Stretch (Nerve Flossing)
This stretch helps to gently mobilize the compressed, pinched, or irritated sciatica nerve. It helps relieve sciatica pain and increases mobility. Lie on your back and relax. Slowly bend your knees. Ensure that your feet lie flat, and your toes are facing forward. Pull one of the bent knees towards your chest using both hands and gently pull the knee forward. Slowly straighten the pulled knee so that it is stretched towards the ceiling. Hold this position for a few seconds, and slowly return to the original position. Repeat this entire process with the alternate knee. Repeat this five times.
2. Pelvic Tilt
Pelvic tilt helps strengthen your core muscles and stretches the lower back. It also helps to properly align the lower back. Lie on your back and relax. Bend your knees with your toes facing forward and feet flat on the ground. Exhale and tightly push your belly button down towards your spine while you push your pelvis up towards your head. This should flatten your back to the ground. Ensure your pelvis is not lifted off the floor. Hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat this ten times.
3. Knee to Chest
Lie on your back and keep your body relaxed. Bend one of your knees and use your hands to gently pull it towards the chest. Hold the position for a few seconds. Slowly release the bent knee and return to the prone position. Repeat this movement with the other knee. Perform five times.
You can also pull both your knees towards your chest together and hold this position for a few seconds. Release the pulled knees slowly and go back to the original position. Repeat this five times.
4. Piriformis Stretch
Piriformis muscle is located deep in the buttock. It originates in the lower back and assists in hip rotation and turning the legs. The piriformis muscle can compress the sciatic nerve triggering sciatica. This stretch helps relax the piriformis muscle to release pressure on the compressed sciatica nerve.
To perform this stretch, lie on your back. Slowly pull one of your knees with your hands towards the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for a few seconds. Ensure that your hips remain grounded. Pull your knee to stretch only the piriformis muscles without stretching your back. Repeat this process with the other knee and the opposite shoulder. Repeat this five times.
5. Sphinx and Cobra Stretch (Back Extension)
Lie on your stomach and make sure your legs are stretched together. Placing your hands next to your head or shoulders, close to your body. Look straight ahead and raise your torso by pushing up your hands. Ensure that your pelvis does not rise, but stays on the ground. Hold this position for a few seconds and return to your original position by slowly lowering your arms. Repeat this ten times.
This stretch is very similar to the cobra stretch. Lie on your stomach and make sure your legs are extended together. Place your hands close to your body near the head or shoulders. Look straight ahead and raise your torso while keeping your forearms on the floor. Make sure your pelvis is grounded and not raised. Hold the position for a few seconds and slowly return to your original position. Repeat this ten times. If at any times you feel pain or pinching in the back, decrease the backstretch or stop completely
6. Glute Stretch
Use a straight-backed chair and sit upright. Keep your knees apart while keeping your feet flat on the ground and toes straight forward. Lift one of your legs, turning at the knee and resting your ankle on the other leg. Hold the ankle in position using your corresponding hand. Slowly bend forward but make sure that your back remains straight while bending. Bend forward as much as you can and hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat this with the alternating leg. The stretch increases the flexibility of your glutes and the piriformis muscles and helps relieve your sciatica.
Exercise and stretching when correctly performed can help manage sciatica
Physical activity including exercising and stretching is a great way to improve overall health, reduce stress, promote good posture, and even help relieve your sciatica. However, consult your chiropractor to determine which of these exercises can benefit you the most. Consultation with your chiropractor is important to learn the correct way to perform these exercises. Incorrectly performed exercises can aggravate and worsen your sciatica. Your chiropractor can create an effective exercise regime tailored for you based on your physical examination, pain index, medical history, and your current physical state and fitness standards.
Finding you need to discuss your options and wellness with one of our team members at South Orange Chiropractic? Contact us today for a consultation about your Sciatic wellbeing.